Ratatouille, french cheese, crusty bread and a bottle of châteauneuf-du-pape. Plus a delicate rose-raspberry charlotte for dessert. What’s not to celebrate? In a salute to our neighbors west of the border we sort of dedicated the whole weekend to France, and Disney’s celebrity rat became an inspiration for a simple and delicious Sunday lunch. I’ve made this french classic – à la Rémy – on two occasions with the hopes of sourcing yellow squash, but sadly it’s not a crop (along with purple carrots, black radishes, and all those crazy-colorful vegs at french markets) that has firmly established itself in Italy.
This is super easy once you’ve made the sauce. I don’t have exact amounts, but use a roasted red bell pepper, skins off and deseeded, 1/4 roasted red onion, 1 small clove garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, a couple spoonfuls of velvety tomato sauce (homemade if possible), and a splash of dry white wine. Add everything to a saucepot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and cook on very low heat until reduced. Remove the thyme twigs; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool, then puree to a smooth sauce. Evenly spread the sauce on the bottom of a 10-inch oval baking dish, then beginning at the center, construct rows of alternating layers of very thinly sliced japanese eggplant, zucchini, roma tomatoes (and yellow squash if you’ve got it). See top image for a better example of how I built this dish; you’ll need atleast one each of the squashes and eggplant, and a few roma tomatoes. After the layers are all in place, sprinkle the vegetables with sea salt and black pepper, and a generous drizzle of evoo. Cut a piece of baking parchment so that it fits snugly within the dish and on top of the vegetable layers. Bake at 300°F for about an hour, or until the vegetables are done. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired.
July 14th – Bastille Day in Milan. We could only spare a morning in the city and the first stop was at Baita del Formaggio on Paolo Sarpi 46 (they’ve moved from P. Sarpi 31). Their online site has such an amazing selection of french lovelies that I would like to have in our fridge, but it’s actually a good thing that in real-time, the shop was letting its stock run out in anticipation of closing up for summer holidays. We would’ve walked out of there with far more than what we could finish. They also sell international cheeses, cured meats and other goodies, such as a mortadella with truffles and I’m saying to myself – yowsah! Via Paola Sarpi no longer equates to chinatown for us – it’s where to go for cheese! If you’d like to read more detail on the cheese head over to the image’s flickr page.
I’ll probably never buy a charlotte mould but I found that a cheesecake pan works just as well. The recipe is from a very old issue of Elle à table (2004), and I must admit that I didn’t really care for the rose flavor. Maybe too much of a rose thing going on, because I don’t mind rose macarons. The biscuits are the ones from Reim, produced by Maison Fossier, of which I had bought a package when we were in France last month. The biscuits do not taste like roses. Pretty dessert, but not something that I would make again.